Women at the Cross

Women at the Cross
Matthew 27:55-56,
John 19:25-27

According to the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke), there were no women at the cross.

There were, however, several women in a group of disciples watching the crucifixion “from a distance.”

The three gospels all name some of these women but give them different names.

These women who discover the empty tomb when they go to cleanse the body of Jesus play a larger role in the resurrection narrative than in the crucifixion.

John’s gospel, quoted each year on Good Friday, pictures Mary the mother of Jesus with two other Marys at the foot of the cross, close enough that a dying Jesus can speak to her and commend her into the care of the beloved disciple.

Mary is likely a widow and her welfare would typically fall to her eldest son.

Jesus passes that care, not to his biological kin, but to his spiritual brother. This moment in John’s story enacts the central, radical, gospel message: “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Eleanor Johnston, Fenwick.